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Melanie Whitter

Principal Associate, Health & Environment

Melanie Whitter Melanie Whitter
Melanie Whitter is a principal associate at Abt, providing strategic counsel and direction for a variety of government projects and initiatives focused on addiction treatment and prevention, mental health, and recovery support and which involve at-risk, marginalized and underserved populations.  
Throughout her 28-year career in public policy, public administration, and program management, Whitter has demonstrated a superior competence in fostering partnerships among various government entities, territories/jurisdictions, communities and other stakeholders.
Today Whitter serves as the project director for SAMHSA’s Project LIFT (Leadership Initiatives for Tomorrow)--a program that grew from an earlier project that she successfully led for 10 years—SAMHSA’s Partners for Recovery Initiative. The intent of Project LIFT is to strengthen the nation’s behavioral health care workforce by enhancing competencies in leadership and health reform, disseminating resources, and supporting a health information technology (HIT) pilot that allows the sharing of health data while protecting a patient’s sensitive health information.     
Earlier in her career, Whitter provided leadership in the State of Illinois as the Single State Authority -for alcohol and other drugs services. She was responsible for coordinating all state prevention, intervention and treatment services for people with substance use conditions, managing a $220 million budget.
Whitter has been active on a variety of advisory boards and task forces, including serving as vice president for treatment and regional director of the National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors.  Recently she was on the Board of Directors of the College for Behavioral Health Leadership.    
Whitter has a Bachelor of Arts in political science from the University of Missouri, Columbia. 
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  • Addiction Treatment
  • Behavioral Health
  • High-Risk Populations
  • Public Policy
  • State Systems

Key Projects

  • Prevention and Early Intervention Materials Development and Marketing Support Project, SAMHSA
  • Partners for Recovery, SAMHSA
  • Bringing Recovery Support Services to Scale Technical Assistance Center Strategy, SAMHSA
  • Evaluation of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation’s Substance Abuse Evaluation and Learning Initiative, Conrad N. Hilton Foundation


  • Serenity House Woman of the Year, 2003
  • George Schwab Distinguished Service Award, The Rosecrance Foundation –Quality of Life Award, and the Haymarket Center Outstanding Service Award, 2002

Selected Publications/Presentations

  • Hillman, D.& Whitter M. (2012). Recovery Community Leadership Symposium, Bethesda, MD, Abt Associates Inc.
  • “Supporting Resiliency and Recovery in the Community,” presentation by M. Whitter at the SAMHSA/PFR School for Prevention Leadership, Washington, D.C., October 21, 2011.
  • Belnap, D., Gueronniere, G., Samuels, P., Martinez, R., Beniquez, K., Nardini, K., & Whitter, M. (2010). Financing Recovery Support Services: Review and Analysis of Funding Recovery Support Services and Policy Recommendations, Bethesda, MD, Abt Associates Inc.
  • Pfefferle, S.G., Gibson, T.S., Whitter, M.W., & Fuller, D. (2010). Minority Recruitment for the 21st Century: An Environmental Scan. Cambridge, MA: Abt Associates Inc.
  • Whitter, M., Hillman, D., & Powers, P. (2010). National Summit on Recovery From Substance Use Disorders: Bringing the Heart and the Head Together, Bethesda, MD, Abt Associates Inc.
  • Sheedy C. K., & Whitter M., Guiding Principles and Elements of Recovery-Oriented Systems of Care: What Do We Know From the Research? HHS Publication No. (SMA) 09-4439. Rockville, Maryland: Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2009